Court: Indiana broke drug rules

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana appeals court has ruled that the state cannot execute prisoners with a previously unused three-drug combination chosen by corrections officials.

The Indianapolis Star reported that the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the state didn’t follow proper procedures when it chose the drugs. The decision comes amid ongoing concerns about botched or painful executions blamed on new execution protocols in several states.

In 2014, the Indiana Department of Corrections unilaterally chose a three-drug process of methohexital, potassium chloride and pancuronium bromide for lethal injections. The combination has not been used for a U.S. execution.

Indiana death row inmate Roy Lee Ward sued the state the next year, arguing the department violated procedures in choosing the new drug. A LaPorte Circuit judge dismissed his claim. But the three-judge Court of Appeals on Thursday found the department violated Ward’s rights under the state and federal constitutions.

The decision means the state cannot execute anyone until it either appeals to the Indiana Supreme Court or holds public hearings to win approval for a new drug combination. The court ruling also requires public officials to seek input from the governor’s office and state attorney general before changing lethal injection drugs.